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U.S. infrastructure investment should spur Canada’s own trade strategy

As the United States awaits details of President Joe Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure announcement, observers in Canada see the news as a signal to push this country’s own infrastructure investment strategy – especially one that promotes trade.

“Some of the elements of President Biden’s plan address trade productivity – moving goods faster, more efficiently and for less cost,” says transportation expert John Law, a senior fellow with the Canada West Foundation and president of Lawmark International Consulting.

The Build Back Better plan has many strands, including investments to improve roads, bridges, rail lines and ports. For a synopsis on the infrastructure investment plan, expected to be released next week, click here.

“Overall, its goal is to boost economic growth, revitalize the economy in the wake of the pandemic shutdown. I think Canada, too, should consider investing in trade transportation infrastructure to support its own economic interests,” Law says.

Law points out that Canada recently has focused attention on infrastructure investment to favour “green” initiatives, which are important. At the same time, the country needs to continue to focus on the infrastructure that carries economic growth – trade transportation assets such as corridors, gateways, port improvements and the like.

“We have already fallen behind the Americans in terms of our global rankings on the quality of trade infrastructure, despite the fact that much of their transportation and trade infrastructure was sorely in need of a refresh,” Law says. “This new infusion of capital, at minimum, has the potential to affect the global perceptions in our shared trade markets of Canada’s commitments to reliability, given the contrast with dramatically increased U.S. infrastructure investment.”

The Biden program, in fact, opens the door to potential collaboration between America and Canada.

Provinces consistently cite the need for improving north-south accessibility as among the top priorities for supply-chain investments, he notes. If Canada could present its own trade transportation program, there is opportunity to coordinate mutually beneficial projects coordinate with the U.S. that tie in at the border, such as key cross-border commercial truck routes.